Judith (Perelman) Rossner 1935–
Rossner is best known for Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1975), a novel typical of Rossner's work in its contemporary setting, its interest in human motivations and conflicts, and its narration from a woman's viewpoint. The book was adapted for film in 1977.
Rossner's settings and themes depict various aspects of contemporary urban America. Any Minute Now I Can Split (1972) takes place in a commune, Goodbar concerns the world of singles bars, and much of August (1983) is set in a psychoanalyst's office. Her fiction examines such topical issues as the sexual revolution and the women's movement. This is true even of Emmeline (1980), an unusual Rossner work in that it is set in the nineteenth century. This novel echoes a concern of Rossner's that was especially prominent in Goodbar—that sexual passion often leads to disaster for women. Although Rossner's novels present a distinctly female consciousness, her heroines are passive and do not display the assertiveness of model feminists.
In most Rossner novels, the central character faces a conflict between opposing inner forces, and the structure of the novels echoes these dualities. In To the Precipice (1966), the protagonist attempts to choose between a man who satisfies her altruistic nature, on the one hand, and one who indulges her selfish needs, on the other. Theresa, in Goodbar, has two very distinct personalities. By day she is a loving schoolteacher; at night she frequents singles bars in search of sexual fulfillment. Attachments (1977), the story of the wives of Siamese twins, concerns the conflict between the need for individuality and the comfort and identity which comes from being "attached" to another person. Rossner's continuing concern with human psychology is made explicit in August, which gives a detailed account of one woman's psychoanalysis and the effect it has on the analyst.
(See also CLC, Vols. 6, 9; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 17-20, rev. ed.; and Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 6.)